This is exactly how it’s NOT supposed to be done…

Part 1Part 2

Gunnar found a new reason to live. He dreamt about forging horseshoes, and didn’t even mind that they weren’t swords. His work was now proudly displayed above the door, and the moment Gunnar entered the kitchen his eyes were automatically drawn to the spot until his mother got irritated. At that point he would apologise, pay attention to her for a minute or two, then withdraw into his imagination again. But Karl went away again and there was no way to tell when he was going to return.

Despite the burns, which were not healing as fast as he wished they would, the boy’s hands itched to grab a hammer again. He still had an unfinished nail in his pocket and felt he knew what to do even without his father’s help. Once three days passed without his return, Gunnar found enough courage – or desperation – to ask Sóley’s permission.

“Go,” she said, resigned.

This was too easy, thought Gunnar, confused. There must have been a catch somewhere. Nevertheless, he decided not to wait until she changed her mind, unlocked the door with sweaty hands, then looked inside. All this was his now, at least for a while. He opened the windows, as instructed by his father, then built the fire. His first attempt failed – simply because he was too excited to do it slowly. The boy ground his teeth and forced himself to be patient. The kindling, the crumpled paper. Gentle pulling and pushing of the blowers. Only when the wood was burning joyfully did he put a handful of coal in, then another, until the fire seemed just right. Now he could finally take the nail out of his pocket.

Continue reading

Icelandic model horseshoe, decorated. If you bought one of the (sold out) super deluxe boxed set editions of Storytellersthis is what you’re going to get.

 

Read Part 1

This time, to Gunnar’s relief, Karl was away only for two days. Mother always got upset when father left, but this time she seemed to be upset with Gunnar for some reason. He didn’t like his mother very much and it seemed that she felt the same towards him, even though both maintained the facade of politeness that came with clenched teeth and white knuckles. It was her own fault, decided Gunnar. If she didn’t start fights with father, he wouldn’t have to go away to get some peace and quiet.

When Karl came back home, all smiles, he handed her a book. Sóley threw it on the table without even looking. Gunnar knew what would happen next. He’d be sent upstairs, to bed, and his parents would fight again. Why did mother have to be like this? Father brought her a present. At least they were quiet enough for their voices to become background noise and Gunnar fell asleep, the unfinished nail under his pillow.

*

“How are your hands? Still hurting?”

“Nay. They’re perfect,” said Gunnar and immediately began sweating at the thought he’d be forbidden from working at the forge ever again. “Never better. Excellent,” he said, avoiding his father’s doubtful gaze, hiding his shaky hands behind his back.

“Good! We can make your first horseshoe then.”

The boy relaxed at first before grasping the full sentence. “A gleaming horseshoe,” he mumbled, trying to sound happy.

Karl looked at him oddly. “Gleaming? Where did you get that from?”

“Eh… a story?”

“What story?”

“The one with the gleaming horseshoes, clearly,” snapped Sóley. Karl winced, but kept smiling. Gunnar turned his eyes away, staring at the forge door. It was locked, like always, but maybe he could somehow get his hands on the key, then work at night… no, they would hear that, maybe when father was away… but then, mother hardly ever left the house…

“Good,” said Karl. “We’ll make a gleaming horseshoe.” He chuckled and Gunnar blushed, although he didn’t know why.

Continue reading

Note: for clarity, I am going to ignore the questions such as where the coal, wood, and paper came from; how Karl obtained wire steel stock; etc.

“Today’s the day,” said Karl.

Gunnar looked up, surprised. He was busy rearranging his collection of animal bones, this time from the largest to the smallest. Sometimes he picked the prettiest one, sometimes the most bad-ass one (a broken skull of a fox), then arranged them in the badassery order. Strangely, the older he got, the less he enjoyed the game. Perhaps he just needed more bones. “The day?”

“The day you start working at the forge.”

Gunnar jumped up to his feet, dropping the large bone he was holding. It hit the skull, breaking it further, but the boy didn’t care. “I…will work at the forge? All on my own?”

 

Kids’ toys – Árbærsjafn open air museum, Reykjavík

 

His father laughed. “No, Gunnar, you can’t work at the forge all on your own. You need a helper. Or, in this case, I need a helper. That will be you.”

The boy was overjoyed. He watched his father at work since the forge was built a year before. Karl was self-taught, or more precisely still self-teaching, explaining to Gunnar over and over again over the noise of the hammer and the roar of the fire that the most important thing about forging was practice, practice, practice. To Gunnar’s dismay, Karl had never made a sword. Yet. “Will I make swords?”

Karl emitted a sound somewhere between a sneeze and a chuckle. “Come, boy.”

Gunnar’s head was already filled with the images of himself making a huuuuuuge sword. One that would slay enemies in half before even touching them. So what that in the twentieth century nobody really needed swords? Gunnar wanted one. He could already see himself expertly handling the weapon. He ignored his mother raising her eyes from the shirt she was mending, then shaking her head. What did mother know about swords? Nothing, that’s what.

Continue reading